Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

Take it from someone who has been on the business end of nearly every parenting cliché in existence, as most over 30 have been, the latest book criticizing American parenting du jour is merely another fad in itself. Like Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Pamela Drukerman’s Bringing Up Bébé it compares, pits American parenting with those around the world in an effort to once again show us what we’re doing wrong; often ignoring what our counterparts across oceans miss too. This time coming from someone slightly more credentialed, not just a parent who thinks they’ve cracked the code to better kids, found a culture whose parenting scheme produces highly successful kids who, in turn, become highly successful adults, a parent who went back to the way their grandparents parented children to raise theirs the antithesis of modern consumeristic, hedonistic, selfish values and was heartily surprised at the results. Rather a doctor, a pediatrician remarking on what he has seen in 20 years of practice; how doctors are routinely asked to step in with medications when ‘bad’ parenting fails. Combined with another popular trend in today’s parenting books, comparing and contrasting things to 20, 30, 50, years ago evoking nostalgia for yesteryear, how we wish we could raise kids now, should raise kids now to avoid the pitfalls of so many. Arguments behind the free range parenting movement sans crucial understanding times, dangers kids face have changed dramatically. Foregoing that 50 years ago was actually 1965 not 1950 as referenced by the CBS This Morning news anchor, in the video below, during the doctor’s discussion of his new book, noting that those born in 1950-51, considering the calendar date, are at the age commonly eligible for social security to provide some perspective, or that chronologically 1965, often seen as the heyday of America, was the heyday of 2 other not so wonderful things: prolific spanking ending in a host of mental, emotional and relationship problems and smack dab in the middle of an era marked by the most horrific, famous serial killers, born, actively killing, sitting on death row 1950 to 1980. Again for perspective’s sake reminding eager watchers striving for a better parenting option 1965 is indeed 50 years ago; those born then are still a half century old and think what has changed, improved our lives, increased our health and enhanced our knowledge since then? Furthermore, that authoritarian parenting, better classified as the authoritative model of raising children, encompassing equal parts love, structure and discipline, wasn’t a fraction as functional as we once believed and isn’t what our parents and grandparents were doing anyway. Even assuming authoritarian, centered around a kind of blind obedience to hard and fast, immoveable authority vs. authoritative parenting, giving a much more practical approach looking at a situation, responding appropriately to a child who may be tired, hungry, negatively reacting to family upheaval, a recent move, answering questions starting with why so children understand reasoning behind rules set for them making them more likely to obey and quicker to do what you ask, are seen as interchangeable in the parenting eyes of the general public. Migration away from those models in favor of ‘being our child’s friend,’ turning what were for us hard and fast rules into wishy-washy questions and asking kids how they feel about misbehavior, ill-treating fellow playmates, classmates  isn’t truly the crux of the doctor’s argument, that we give children too much authority, aren’t rising to 21st century parenting challenges. If the CBS segment is any indication of content, launching into societal factors about statistics of parents who work outside the home, family dynamics where both parents work outside the home, how many middle school kids have  parent provided cellphones, social media pages. Also, readers hope he completes his hypotheses and examples purportedly supporting his arguments in the book better than he did on the morning show or they will doubtlessly be demanding a refund.  Dr. Lenard Sax and The Collapse of Parenting How We are Hurting Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-ups are just as much an abysmal failure as we perceive the new age parenting strategies to be. Only with a greater sin attached, failure to see 30-50 years ago has never worked in forging solid parent child bonds, cultivating the due respect to parents and elders within the community structure, never operated for the good of society in rendering to us functional, productive, mindful, caring, helpful citizens. And instead, was, has been, kept for the good of individual parent egos already too inflated, corrupt, dictatorial power structures subject to the whims of those at the top, ‘in charge’ drunk on their own power thus abusing it horribly. Interesting how every time a parent’s sole parenting approach isn’t corporal punishment, hitting a child for wrongdoing or just because they can, believing it will make better people, yelling, screaming, barking at a child until they fear you rather than respect you, fear you the person, not the privilege that will be taken away, the toy they will lose, extra chores they will be assigned for doing something they were told not to, it’s translated into being your child’s friend not their rightful authority figure, parent. One’s genuine concern for the bond, lack of one with their child, desiring a strong, positive relationship between you is somehow morphed into a needy codependence to your child; ignoring that those truly concerned about whether their child likes them are exercising foresight enough to know they want to see their future grandkids, preferable to being expressly barred from them because of reoccurring rifts, they don’t want to be carted off to a nursing home in their dotage, backs turned, doors slammed and utterly forgotten about. Consequences whether you are abusive, neglectful, just spent 18 years driving your kid to distraction by never getting it, never understanding them, never attempting to. They are ‘bad’ parents for acknowledging the dysfunction of their own childhood and endeavoring to parent without the easily identified holes in their parents’ parenting; basic reason dictates an I think not.

Glossed over in the glib repetitively used quote to counter kids who say ‘I hate you’ or ‘you’re ruining my life’ “sometimes I don’t like you either coupled with “it is my job to keep you safe so you won’t be doing this” are parents who don’t artfully say such things responding to listed common child, tween or teen  statements but instead use the concept as added justification to continue treating their child, children as an inconvenience, something they didn’t want, shouldn’t have had, undercurrents children can pick up on effecting behavior. Parents unwilling to let their child have or do something primarily because they are too lazy to be bothered, believe in exclusion of TV, video games, smartphones, as opposed to managing it for you and your family, simultaneously teaching your child to manage distractions. Prevailing mythology that authority over a child matters more than loving said child; securing obedience to you, your authority, your demands is more important than your child seeing you as a reasonable, fair minded person versus arbitrary, capricious and cruel based on your actions, handling of daily situations, coming full circle seeing authority in the same light. Or the negative outcomes when that’s not the case, and the earlier the latter becomes their truth, the earlier they begin to resent and defy authority, mythology proven wholly wrong by the long term success of authoritative parenting. Take Dr. Sax’s 3 bites of broccoli example, his assertion phrasing it as a question removes the authority, parental authority from the expectation a child eat their vegetable before receiving dessert; when in actuality, phrasing it as a question gives the child at least the allusion of control over their environment, a semblance of choice in a world where their parents are deciding everything, when they sleep, eat, play, nap, what clothes they wear. A parenting tactic holding the added bonus of reducing tantrums in children 18 months to 5 years old, and lo and behold their parenting authority i.e. ability is still entirely intact. Either the child downs 3 bites of broccoli and gets desert, or they don’t, and they don’t get dessert, knowing what to do next time they are asked the same exact, same type question. Here enters the incompleteness of his argument, the crux of what he was really getting at but only dropping vague hints to, parents who ask said question and end up giving them desert whether they eat the 3 bites or not. Still far fewer parents than he may think and is perfectly happy leading the reading public to believe is a majority. Similarly yes the school attempting to ban cellphones in class confronted by a parent stating they needed to text their daughter to know what they wanted for dinner seems silly on the surface; key words being on the surface. Guaranteed, that principal would have had a harder time finding a flippant, ‘be a parent,’ ‘you are the parent, you can decide what’s for supper’ response if a parent had said I am not sending my kid to school without a way to communicate with me in case of emergencies; exactly what one parent did a few short years post 9-11, when a cheating scandal involving built-in cellphone calculators rocked her son’s school, and they tried instituting a ban. If they had said I need to text, call to tell them to pick their little brother up or take the bus to daycare not home because I’m working. Bigger problem, instead of looking at all angles, crafting solutions for all families with students in their school while meeting their needs too, comprehending where we are socially, technologically, that there are increasing dangers out there, that there aren’t payphones anymore, businesses willing to let you use their phones to call mom/dad in an emergency; hints why so many younger and younger kids have cellphones. Stubbornly, deliberately refusing to see where technology can be as asset, how welcome it probably is to school offices, not getting messages that must be passed on to students during the day, would have been to the office staff in my elementary school, circa the 1990’s, and a 4th grade classmate always getting messages via the office from his mother to walk to grandmas after school because she had to work; reality today they might even suggest it, getting him a cellphone precisely for that purpose. Instead of recognizing she addresses mealtime this way to keep food from lining the trashcan, kids perfectly willing to wait until the next meal, raid cupboards when the parents aren’t looking, are already in bed (MSNBC just did a documentary on food waste  in America called Just Eat It). instead of it dawning on the school administrator, perhaps on a gentler note, this parent in all likelihood hasn’t abdicated her parent status, authority over foods in her house by giving it to her child, rather sees it as the one nice thing she does, the one significant choice her kids get to make, minimal reward, balanced give and take in a home where they have other chores, responsibilities, he/she jumped to you’re a bad, ineffective parent, the you are the parent, be a parent mantra. Contrary to perhaps pulling her aside and individually suggest she call/text at 3:00, in a probable middle school setting, where school is out at 2:45, she will have had time to go to her locker, ask her in the morning before leaving for school, he/she, like Sax, jumps into one dimensional thinking shredding her parenting. Relevant related question for Dr. Sax, what is the best time to allow kids a social media page, understanding social media to tweens, teens today is to us what the telephone was when we were their age and you wouldn’t deny them access unless it was punishment for bad behavior, abuse, misuse of the privilege? When they’ve already created one in secret you know nothing about; which do you want, them having a page you have the password to, can see what’s posted on it, set rules, guidelines, limits, give advice, or them posting totally unacceptable things on it, you completely in the dark, committing suicide due to cyber bullying cause totally unbeknownst to you? Following his own logic, parents’ jobs are to teach kids right from wrong meaning social media too; especially considering you have zero to 18 to do it in before they are completely our on their own and must be prepared for every aspect of this thing called life.

Debating societal factors influencing human behavior, ah the golden rule ‘do unto others as you’d have done unto you’ or the simplified version, treat others how you want to be treated— when diligently practiced, becoming the chief concept governing interactions with one another,  held as a broad panacea for social injustice. A picturesque version putting aside the golden rule was only ever applied to good, Christian, white people, excluding people of other faiths; as evidence by the little Jewish boy regularly beat up on the playground for refusing to pray, pray like his classmates, when we had prayer in school and everything was better. Never applying to women who had to fight for every right automatically given to a man from owning property, to managing their own finances, having a bank account, to the basic right of suffrage, voting on issues affecting the country they live in too. The women’s movement still not at its height in the beginning of our good doctor’s reckoning on how parents were more effective back then; women still subject to limited employment options regularly trapping them in abusive relationships where men believed they had a legal, moral right to spank/beat their wives to gain obedience, perfectly socially acceptable citing biblical principles. Doubly sanctioned by a preacher in the pulpit on Sunday; what a fine example for their sons and daughters both.  A golden rule certainly not extended to blacks in the south; civil rights acts passed a year before and the year of his references to ‘more competent parenting.’ Leonard Sax was about 2 years into his 20 year medical practice when Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence and beaten savagely for no other reason than being gay, but we are A- supposed to believe the golden rule was the catalyst behind not getting answers about wanting to kick a fellow kid in the nuts and sit on his face— sure. And B- supposed to reinstitute its use based on a rose colored glasses view of its unprecedented ability to drastically alter individual behavior; anyone else tempted to say come on? The other ah here, religion that that cardinal rule is based on the Christianity fraught with a host of historical problems, the growing phenomenon of none’s, people who don’t practice an organized religion, means this ‘rule of thumb,’ unspoken guideline of society won’t go over well with some parents; never mind religion can make kids more selfish, entitled, willing to mete out punishment and does not preclude crime to the degree often assumed. Just click the link below about the Amish man. Nor is it that we don’t have an answer when we ask our kid how they would feel if someone did to them whatever you’re reprimanding them for doing and they come back at us with such a response; immediate reaction apart from shock is likely to be: ‘no you won’t, you don’t treat people like that, where did you hear such a thing, get such an idea?’ A decidedly unproductive, counterproductive move because we haven’t delved deeply enough into what’s going on; is the kid being smart aleck refusing to give the desired answer they know you want because you need to go to the next level from trying to impart empathy to punishment for bad behavior? More plausible, they spout off the shocking, deplorable answer due to being in a bad mood, find it falls flat in practicality; translation, they keep treating people how they would want to be treated only to get the opposite in return, be called weak by their peers, seen as a doormat. Has the situation crossed over to a full-fledged episode of bullying indicating the reason he wants to kick a singular individual, group in the nuts and sit on his face is he has had something equally bad done to him first, he’s tired of the constant harassment, humiliation, requiring a totally different conversation, approach? Juxtaposed against the golden rule also in operation 30-50 years ago, according to the old school, you should tell your child to hit the bully back, toughen up; should your child be the bully, punish them relentlessly so they learn their lesson. Again the definition of redundantly counterproductive to what we know now; because, bullies have been shown many times to be experiencing emotional, psychological problems, may have been the victim of physical, sexual abuse by someone, need help in adjusting to a move, a divorce. Realities backed up when one school crafted a survey asking for bullies’ names, talked to them individually, went about helping them solve their problems and offered extracurricular activities as reward for good behavior, virtually eliminating bullying there; concepts further reinforced by’s interview your bully project and the answers gained there. Help gotten going farther than anything to stopping bullying and bettering society at large. Sax is right about one thing though, the continued undermining of authority, yet hardly from weak parents willingly handing it to advantage-taking kids run wild. Authority has been systematically undermined by authority’s own rampant abuse of said power, rampant corruption. Neither is it a cultural of disrespect, adults over the past few decades sending the message it is a good idea to throw your middle at the government, any authority you don’t like, literally or with greater actions. It’s better explained, people look around and see there is nothing to respect, no one who adheres to values even if they aren’t your own, no one follows the values they claim to, older people are no longer synonymous with wisdom and knowledge contrastingly antiquated thought patterns, an implied license for bad behavior and downright senility. There is no one to look up to, to emulate, model solid, “good” behavior after. Growing society wide distrust of all things authority, it’s worth noting, duly earned via exposed cover-ups, scandals revolving around lying, cheating, stealing usually money, distrust  tracing back to the 1970’s with Nixon and Watergate, enhancing perspective of just when this became the norm, far earlier than his comments imply. Not to be discounted either the cases of child abuse, neglect, torture making headlines, sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, just how common these types of neglect were 20, 30, 50 years ago facilitating the back talk they received, almost necessitating it to survive; processing the revelation baby boomer parents and their predecessors practiced authoritarian parenting respect authority or else, blind obedience, were some of the most arbitrary, rule making people on the planet and their parenting frankly sucked, demanding better of ourselves and societies institutions by rejecting that bologna. We now know what some ‘Asian’ parents will resort to, to get such wonderful achievements from their kids and we don’t want it; we called out the irony attached to James Harrison snatching participation trophies from his kids, being a poster boy for meritocracy considering the dubiousness of his success fraught with run ins with the law, fines for illegal plays exc.

In Italy they don’t have as many kids on medication; you know what else they don’t have in Italy as a matter of statistical fact: 1-45 boys now somewhere on the autism spectrum accounting for portions of that medication not ADHD.  Children like the one who inspired the blog ‘I am Adam Lanza’s mother’ chronicling one woman’s struggle to get her son help for his blatantly obvious behavioral problem/mental illness. Compartmentalizing for the moment complicated, convoluted mental health systems varying drastically by state, reality your child had to be in trouble with the law to get access to some help, battles with insurance companies over covered medications, therapies. Whether you classify him ODD, the alphabet soup of behavioral disorders not used in Europe in favor of parenting lectures via doctors, parenting classes, intermittent explosive disorder usually associated in the American DSM with brain damage after car accidents, significant head injury, or choose exclusively from the standard clinical diagnostics used universally worldwide bipolar, schizophrenic, other psychosis. It quickly becomes the height of irrelevant considering when he was given the right combinations of therapies and medications his mother got the call she never gets. One from his school telling her he had a good week, controlled his temper, turned in all his work demonstrating, despite the long trial and error, multiple diagnoses, medications tried and abandoned, medication was the right route for her child. Utterly unmentioned, what happens when doctor, school intervention, mandated testing is in the best interest of a child showing classic signs of a disorder like ADHD, interacting personnel can see evidence of clear rules and structure at home and the child still acts out. Equally negligent, omitting any examination of what our collective societal assumptions and misjudgments do as far as throwing additional obstacles in the way of treatment for kids who need it. To the points about healthcare options, in Italy you don’t possess insurance companies that will pay for medication or therapy but not both, refuse to pay for beneficial therapies to a child with problem X because they don’t meet excessively narrow criteria, effective treatment isn’t reserved either for those who can afford to pay the highest prices, those in trouble with the law ratcheting up the stakes in need to get immediate help; you don’t have a disjointed mess comprising a litany of doctors and specialists, therapists and pediatricians all in separate locations who must be kept on the same page. Also not in Italy, gargantuan class sizes leading to stressed out teachers demanding ‘problem’ kids be medicated to manage them, laser focus on standardized testing making room for integrated learning for both genders, outlets for kinesthetic learners shafted in the American education system. No elimination of recess to boost academic performances, lack of funds slashing art, music, fun mobile activities facilitating learning while letting kids spend their energy, teacher bias against boys for loud, boisterous behavior, excess fidgeting; teachers likewise pass the test of being able to teach things like counting change by adding them up as just numbers, pass the litmus test of classroom management something those insisting child X be medicated before returning to class probably couldn’t do. Ironic 2 years ago Dr. Sax appeared on a Fox news show calling school toxic for boys where they get in trouble for throwing snow balls at each other, drawing weapons like swords, creative writing amounting to historical fiction depicting violence—centered in WWII, but failed to include it in any of his findings, conclusions on parenting; factors doubtlessly accounting for at least some of that running around throwing things sans an absence of rules, boundaries, sans a disorder, mental illness. Ironic Sax touts his book the very same week Michael Moore was the talk of the blogosphere showcasing the stellar social programs in Europe via his new documentary, when Norway produced Anders Behring Breivik. A Germanwings pilot possessing a mental health history was not only allowed to obtain his pilot’s license, he used an entire airplane with 150 people aboard to commit suicide; worse airline executives, even after being informed about the cause, refused to alter procedures requiring 2 people in the cockpit at all times, operations changed on American flights after 9-11. Italy itself is poised for another Amanda Knox style mess with the death of an America artist there and Knox’s investigator still on the job, handling the current case. But Italy, Europe is better; even Pamela Drukerman commented on the heavy use of corporal punishment and humiliation to elicit the behavior, academic performance ‘achieved’ in France. Concurrently, can we please for the love of common sense stop making ‘bad kids,’ ‘bad parenting’ overwhelmingly and American problem particularly in light of the French father who killed his 3 year old son by putting him in the washing machine, turning it on reportedly for poor grades, the Chinese kid who killed a dog the same way. Those aren’t American kids shoving a car, you read that right, shoving a car down subway stairs during the Christmas holiday; that group is from Brussels. Finally here of course American parents are confused; no, not confusion about who should be in charge, who should make rules, decidedly adult decisions; it isn’t turmoil from some obsessive compulsive need for their kid to like them, throwing all else out the window. It’s directly stemming from the deluge of parenting books, advice, morning show segments contradictions and endless criticism thrown at them. Named role confusion just as likely to happen with an abusive, neglectful, flighty, can’t get their act together parent than an indulgent one, in fact more so; because the child must be the adult in the room/house, combat parents who definitively are telling them to do things morally wrong, doling out factually inaccurate information on a regular basis. The Italian father who appeared on the Oprah show, when it was still on air, calling his kid brilliant negotiators because they had to put forth a good argument to get to do something would likewise fly in the face of ‘the Sax parenting model’ returning to parenting of decades past.

Speaking of schools, comparing ones here and in Italy or subjecting ours to basic analytical scrutiny, firstly confronting kids ‘choosing the school’ they attend, if you have elected to send your child to a school outside their assigned district, barring defined, diagnosed special needs necessitating a specific educational environment not present, feasible to create in a standard classroom, designated school for those with autism, mental health disorders, behavior problems, you will be responsible for transportation. A decision usually come to because parents are searching for better academic options, can afford it, can juggle transportation so are seeking enhanced opportunities giving them a leg up for college. Within that context ‘letting your child choose’ which school they attend is a powerful motivator to ensuring academic performance because otherwise they have to go back to their old one, leave friends, desired activities. Missing, any conversation about kids who earn a place at a magnet school or are suggested for a specialized school due to being gifted, showing talent, promise in language arts, science and technology, math, performing arts, music, an unimaginable opportunity for poorer families, who if they can will find a way, an easy way to support a child’s passion by ‘letting them choose’ the chance put in front of them; what’s wrong with that?  30 years ago yes teachers, principals, coaches held the rule of law over children during the school day, throughout the duration they were in their care, when, even 30 years ago was the 1980’s parents from the 1950’s/60’s who had children still unaccustomed to throwing off their prior conformity driven roots.  However that was one, before schools became dens of arbitrary rule following sans any common sense, any exceptions for unique situations, whether it’s shamming girls for their clothes, engaging in creepy tests to make sure girls skirt lengths are acceptable, tank/workout style top straps are up to ‘regulation;’ before school personnel would argue with a parent, enforce a suspension, detention when they bought the named item expressly to follow ‘the rules,’ went so far as to demonstrate with a ruler child and parent were in the right. Two, before the 1950’s-60’s, potentially 70’s raised crowd became so incapable of making a decision, coming to a judgment call, in order to keep kids safe from an evolving world they were paralyzingly frightened of, enacted the zero tolerance policies that hauled kids off to the principal’s office in kindergarten to sign notes home explaining their suspension for carrying a nail file in their big girl purse, treated the key chain on a Tweety change purse the same as the large metal chain a gang member might use to beat someone up.  Who could forget the grade school kid who shaved her head to support her cancer afflicted friend only to be suspended from school because her head could be a distraction. Lastly and most prominently underscoring the marked change in how authority is viewed in schools, why parents “swoop in like attorneys and mount a defense” every time a kid gets in trouble at school is, 50 years ago we didn’t know about the widespread bullying and berating happening to our child/children, borderline physical abuse. 30 years ago we were just coming to terms with the world no longer being the safe place we once thought it was, psychos they could encounter walking to school alone, sexual abuse they might face if taken, at home by twisted relatives; virtually inconceivable a teacher or coach might do something so evil. Far from inconceivable now that we know names like Jerry Sandusky and Dennis Hastert; as little as 3 years ago an entire school staff had to be replaced after disturbing sexually suggestive pictures of students were found in the possession of one teacher, another was arrested.  30 years ago we didn’t have teachers taking a belt off their own pants attempting to hit students with it ‘trying to break up a fight,’ less because they weren’t so unruly then, are so unruly now, the principal would paddle them for you; you didn’t have teachers threatening to leave an outside classroom door unlocked so someone could come in and shoot them to get good behavior, correct bad behavior, less because it wasn’t needed and more because the adults weren’t so blatantly out of control—of themselves. Let’s next add up the benefits of the previous 2 generations parenting styles, ‘adults’ more likely to have toddler reminiscent meltdowns when they aren’t shown the respect they believe their age demands, regardless if they are talking about replacement part for microwaves; more apt to become upset when asked to wait in a line, follow rules like everyone else, calming their age means they shouldn’t have to put up with situation X.  So called ‘adults’ more likely to resort to violence to handle their problems, more likely to engage in abjectly pathological behavior exemplified by the 51 year old woman who drowned her grandchild in the bathtub or the possibly intoxicated road rage guy who let loose on 2 bikers stopped at a light. Society christened ‘adults’ who came of age in a different time who also literally kill people over loud music, knocking on their door looking for help, because someone wouldn’t stop texting in a movie theater where the movie hadn’t started yet, then waved his finger in his wife’s face and told her to shut her f-ing mouth when told his victim didn’t deserve to be shot; the latter one Curtis Reeves. That has to be one of the most trivial, outraging reasons to kill someone on record; certainly to rival teens who authorities claim beat up, killed a homeless person because they were bored, severely injured a classmate over a minor humiliation. At least the teenagers videotaping their wild drug escapades, petty criminal behavior, sexual exploits have the opportunity to grow up, grow out of their wild streak; adults already should be grown up physically and mentally. Referencing adults from a different time, adults still subscribing to the ‘old school,’ younger and younger persons out of the pool deemed legally of age in light of the bratty, audacious behavior done by ‘kids today,’ exploring the decadent world of tweens, teens, emerging 20 something’s; who bought the Ethan Couch defense? What judge, jury bought that he was so wealthy, spoiled he didn’t know right from wrong.  Few can’t understand a mother protecting her child, a lawyer doing his job, no matter how distasteful, and a young guy who doesn’t want to go to jail. But who in the general public, sitting on a judicial bench would buy this crap not based on any legitimate psychology, any prior case study; not only buy it, but then not demand the mother/father, primary parent of Mr. Couch, who killed 4 people, be charged, in some capacity in those deaths. That’s solely on the older people who bought the non-sense.

Not challenged that should be, Leonard Sax’s entire premise that cellphones and social media pages, one household allowing children to regularly choose dinner menus equals giving a child authority period, forget authority needing, rightfully belonging to the parent; rather than they are tools we give kids to navigate the world they live in, help grow them into the adults we want them to be. The chronological fact, Dr. Sax has only been in practice 20 years, so what does he genuinely know about pediatric, child and family medicine 50, especially 30 years ago? That it wasn’t until slightly less than 30 years ago ADHD made it into the DSM as we now understand it, the spike in cases in the 90’s mirroring the one happening presently with autism, improved diagnostics; we used to put dunce caps on kids who didn’t learn well, had no idea what disorders like Tourette syndrome was, should we really go back to calling downs syndrome Mongolian idiot, a term the world health organization (WHO) dropped in 1965 widely used through the 1970’s, in the same decade president Obama signed a law removing the word retarded from government documents to be replaced with developmentally delayed? If that doesn’t reiterate the out of date nature of his references, arguments and understanding of the world, nothing will.   Adjacently no book to date has challenged parents to better parent, reign in their children by being good at being ‘in charge’ of children through their respective ages; promoting it’s not about stomping around your house with a metaphorical billy-club, getting your kids to obey you at all costs, obey solely based on who you are contrastingly putting forth the ‘radical’ idea you command respect not demand respect by being reasonable, fair and employing common sense per age level. Acknowledgement up to 90% of the tantrums, backtalk and difficulty in raising children is the parents’ fault, yet not in being too permissive, failing to teach children manners, respect, adherence to rules but abysmal communication skills, failure to think things through before doing them, running errands in the middle of nap, meal times, later at night, falling back on because I am your mother/father, guardian, because I said so to get them to do something instead of using 5 more words and 30 more seconds to explain why, taking time to explain why we wait in lines, stop at red lights exc. for younger kids. Ignorance that using a question to get kids to eat their broccoli in order to get dessert shows a depth of communication skill particularly needed with children. As opposed to doing what so many do, relaying instructions out of sync, kid in public asks to do something you say yes, they run off to do it and you go no, come back we have to wait from my drink first [standing at a Starbucks counter] instead of saying first we have to, then we can do—oh. I vividly remember an instance my freshman English teacher relayed in college highlighting the importance of communication and sentence structure in which a parent called his kid downstairs, asked if he wanted to go to a movie, then said clean your room and we’ll go to a movie; an hour later kid is called back down, ready for the trip to the movies, parent asked did you clean your room? Kid goes no, you didn’t tell me to clean my room; professors theory, parent told child to clean room after telling him about going to the movies while the kid was fantasizing about which one to see, what kind of candy he was going to get and so on. Telling agape students parent would have had greater success if they had said clean your room before ever mentioning the movies; if only we could get parents to implement it instead of resorting to the default of who’s in charge, smacking the kid for back talking, because they honestly didn’t hear you based on how you said what you said. Or another radical brainstorm, all these battles over broccoli don’t matter, a balanced week of nutrition versus a balanced day still achieves health without the food fights, if you are waging battle over such things you are sweating the small stuff; rules should be centered around morality, safety and order, not whims and convenience for parents, the fewer the better, the more effective. Want to bring up Italy, all of Europe really; how about talking about the sane vacation/sick time they get there, not fearing for their job should they, their child get sick, affordable childcare, sane working hours in the highest octane careers so they have the time/energy to raise the families they create. All things that impact parenting the author skips over to make it all the parents’ fault; oh and a culture of disrespect he described but failed to say was well earned. Presidential campaigns based on impotent white rage, not the point.  Irony of ironies Sax whines about ‘letting children choose a school’ to go to, parents ferretting them to/from school when parents 50 years ago, who could afford it, paid for posh private schools and mapped out their child’s whole life, career path for them while still in the crib, heaven help you if you rebelled, said no, chose your own. Irony of ironies he brings up the golden rule, when his generation is the stand your ground generation— the ones more likely to poison their neighbors dog, let a landscaping dispute devolve into murder.  Bill Cosby’s reason for doing the Cosby Show in the ‘80’s, 30 years ago was, he was tired of shows where kids were smarter than the parents; Bill Cosby the probable original rufie rapist of women. And we want more of the parenting culture that created that, the violence, the tantruming crazy; why would we?